Former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has accused France of denying the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, accusing the German government of initially favoring the quick defeat of Ukraine’s military in the protracted conflict.
On Monday, Johnson told CNN affiliate CNN Portugal that before Moscow launched its all-out invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the West had widely diverged.
His comments drew a sharp rebuttal from Germany, which accused the ex-PPM of having a “peculiar relationship with the truth”.
Johnson later emphasized that EU countries were behind Ukraine and providing strong support, but said that was not the case in the period before the Russian invasion.
“This thing is a big shocker … you can see Russian battalion tactical teams gathering, but there are many different views in different countries,” Johnson told CNN’s Richard Quest in Portugal.
“The German view is that if there is a catastrophe, it would be better to get things done quickly and knock Ukraine out,” Johnson was quoted as saying. for sound economic reasons” for the approach.
“I cannot support that; I think that’s a bad way to look at it. But I can understand why they thought and felt the way they did,” Johnson added. After Germany invaded Moscow, it sought to quickly reduce its dependence on Russian energy.
“Do not doubt that the French were denied until the last moment,” Johnson said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has fronted Europe’s efforts to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from invading just weeks before the Russian leader ordered his troops into the country. In March, the head of French military intelligence, Gen. Eric Vidard, was ordered to resign in part because he did not anticipate the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a military source with knowledge of the matter told CNN at the time.
Johnson also criticized Italy’s initial response to the invasion threat. Mario Draghi told Quest that his government “would not be able to support the position we are taking” due to their “enormous” reliance on Russian hydrocarbons.
CNN has contacted the French and German governments. Draghi’s office declined to comment.
German Ambassador to Britain Miguel Berger said on Wednesday. Note A government spokesperson tweeted: “We know that the very jovial former Prime Minister has always had a unique relationship with the truth. There is no exception in this matter.”
While many observers believe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will be complete within weeks or days, Kyiv forces have recently succeeded in counter-offensives to regain ground in the east and south of the country, instead of crushing Moscow’s initial setback.
As soon as Russia launched its invasion in February, attitudes across Europe changed rapidly, Johnson said.
“What happened was that everyone – the Germans; France Italy Everybody saw (US President) Joe Biden – no choice. Because we cannot negotiate with this man (Putin). That’s the bottom line,” the former prime minister said, adding that the EU has since done brilliantly in countering Russia.
“After all my concerns… I applaud the EU’s action. They were united. The sanctions are tough,” Johnson added.
During his tenure, Johnson frequently criticized Russian aggression and developed a close relationship with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Johnson was forced to resign in July after repeated scandals tarnished his reputation and forced dozens of his ministers to resign.
Boris Johnson talks about his chances of becoming Prime Minister.
Johnson told CNN that Zelensky was “absolutely outstanding” in his leadership. “He’s a very brave guy. I think the history of this conflict will be completely different than it has ever been.”
If Ukraine chooses to join the EU, they should go. I think helping to achieve political and economic reform would be a good thing for Ukraine. Kyiv applied to join the bloc earlier this year.
Johnson was replaced in Downing Street by Liz Truss, the shortest-serving British prime minister. Her disastrous seven-week term was marred by a “mini-budget” that spooked markets and alarmed global financial agencies.
In a sparing critique of that small budget, Johnson told Quest, “It’s like this when I play the piano. The notes are perfectly OK individually, but they’re not in the right order. or happening at the right time.”
Truss was replaced by Rishi Sunak, Johnson’s chief political rival, who traveled to Kiev as prime minister for the first time on Saturday.